47 Star Flag Question

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by KrisNelson, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. KrisNelson

    KrisNelson Guest

    I am curious about anyones knowledge on a 47 star flag. I know that it was literally 5 weeks between the 47th and 48th States being added - would they have really made any 47 star flags? I have been approached with the existence of one - supposedly only 1 of 3 or 4 ever made. I have seen it - and it is clearly old and it looks authentic but wanted the input of you experts as to any knowledge that you might have.

    You can email me directly if you want at

  2. well i recken it was quite possible that 47 star flags where made in that time period before Arizona joined the union.... before the 48 star flag there was no guidance on star positioning as long as the flag had the right number of stars it didnt matter about the arrangement or size of them. so if people didnt know about Arizona joining so soon after New Mexico im sure there were some flags made with 47 stars on them.- though obviously it was never to be an official flag
  3. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    US Flag manufacturers in the late 19th and early 20th C were eager to add the new star to their flags as soon as possible in total disregard for the letter of the law specifying that the additional star must wait until the following July 4. This was also the case for the 47 star flag. In 5 weeks you can mass-produce quite a lot of flags so they aren't as rare as one might think. If you "google" 47-star flag you will find a number of references, including a few museum collections. A small number have shown up on eBay as well, on the order of one or two a year, but bring lower final bids than good Civil War era flags. Why? It is a matter of supply and demand. While there are few 47 star flags around, there are far fewer flag collectors, but a lot of Civil War collectors who want a flag as part of that collection. Nick
  4. tbhs

    tbhs Guest

    Our museum is one of the few to have a 47-star flag. Please check out our web site at Tularosa Basin Historical Society - Alamogordo, New Mexico to see a photograph of it. It was found by a native of Alamogordo in California in the 1980s tacked up on the wall of a bar. The Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe has 2 in storage. Also, one was donated to the Smithsonian in 2005. The man who found ours theorized shortly before his death last year that one might have been made to fly above each of the 33 county courthouses in New Mexico. Both Arizona and New Mexico had been wanting statehood for so long, it makes since that flags were manufactured for New Mexico.
  5. Phil

    Phil New Member

    There must be many more out there. I found three in a house I bought 25 years ago. North central IN. They were smaller hand waving variety.
  6. bronny49

    bronny49 New Member

    The 1818 law carried forward calls for a star for each new state admitted to the union to be added as of July 4 after the date of admission. New Mexico admitted 1/6/1912 and Arizona 2/14/1912 would mean that both stars would be added at the same time. Any 47 star flag would be unofficial and outside of the sanction of the law as being a legal flag of US. 1912 was the only time when 2 States were admitted in the same year between July 4ths. In 1890, 5 were added at the same time. Otherwise, the usual practice was to admit them one at a time. Sometimes they were deliberately admitted on either side of a July 4th so that the favored party in power would have the first one with seniority. The last example of that involved Alaska (Republican -Ike President) and Hawaii (Democrat).
  7. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello bronny49. Interesting idea you brought up, that of deliberately delaying a state's admission in order to give an advantage to one political party over another. Where did you find that assertion? I never heard that before.
  8. bronny49

    bronny49 New Member

    Here is a long answer to the matter of admission of States with partisan concerns.
    The practice of occasional deliberate separation may have started with the fight that resulted in the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The argument that led up to the compromise was the recognition by the slave states that the population growth was in the non-slave states. The slave state politicians knew they had lost the majority in the House due to that growth. But they also knew that they had to have an equal balance in the Senate, which is based on state, not population.
    The fight started after the admission of Alabama in December 1819. This had brought the number of stars to 22 with the number of slave/non-slave states equal at 11 each. But early in 1820, a petition for Maine to be admitted was brought up. This is where the Missouri Compromise came in. The slave states agreed to let Maine come in as a free state if Missouri would come in as a slave state. Maine ‘s admission was immediately approved in March 1820, bringing a majority to the non-slave states. This also meant that the next flag would have 23 stars instead of 22 because of the change on the 4th of July following admission. In the next session of Congress, the non-slave state majority then agreed to admit a much smaller area as the state of Missouri with no restriction on slavery, leaving it to Missouri to choose. But the actual admission of Missouri was delayed until other agreements were worked out involving future states in the Louisiana Territory. Missouri was approved as a state that would allow slavery a year later, April 1821 - the 24 star flag. Slavery was prohibited in territories north of Missouri and west of it above the line of Missouri’s southern border. The Senate was again equally divided between slave and non-slave.
    The admission of the next 4 states followed a pattern of separation and a new star for each. The admissions also kept the equal balance between slave and non-slave. That pattern also shows the admission of one state at the end of a Congressional session and the admission of the next at the beginning of the next, indicating a seniority preference.
    From 1846 on, the pattern of balance was broken and the next 5 States, IO, WI, CA, MN, OR, were non-slave States. The South now had a much weakened status in both the House and the Senate. The move for secession was inevitable. The violence over the slave issue in Kansas and the Dred Scott decision which ruled that property rights of slavery could not be banned anywhere, striking down all state prohibitions on slavery, accelerated the tensions that resulted in war.
    During the post-war period, Republicans dominated Congress, the Presidency, and the new territories of the west. Four states were approved by Congress at once in November 1889 but the President signed them on different days, resulting in a seniority ranking. There is no explanation of his choices. A fifth state was approved later but all were 5 in the same 12 months preceding the next 4th of July so their admissions resulted in 5 stars added at once.
    When Hawaii became eligible to be a state, President Eisenhower would not approve it until Alaska was eligible. When that came about, he also insisted that Alaska come first. Thus, the Alaskan Republican Representative and Senators had seniority over the Hawaiian Democrats. The dates of the proclamations also resulted in two flags, the 49 star and the 50 star.
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The patch on your 48 star flag is original to the flag itself and is a reinforcement at a location that gets the most wear. There is probably a similar red patch at the bottom, correct?
  10. kittyboy

    kittyboy New Member

    Yes I noticed that as I folded it away. Thanks

    Does anyone know where I could go to get identity of this which I found with my dads war items. Also have a cloth belt with Japanese symbols written on it

    Attached Files:

  11. alankay

    alankay New Member

    I have in my possession a 47 star flag. The star pattern is 878888 starting from the top. it is 8'x15' does anyone have any new information on this flag?
  12. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello alankay,

    Welcome to the USA Flag Forum.

    47 star flags were made over a period of a couple of years just prior to the admission of New Mexico and Arizona. It was well known that those two territories would be admitted to the Union but there were certain "formailities" that did not fall in place for both states until 1912.

    The US Flag law, of course, states that new stars were not to be added to the flag until the July 4th following the state's official admission to the union, but flagmakers have been ignoring that minor detail ever since 1818. Only when the US went from 48 to 49 and then from 49 to 50 states did anyone really pay attention to the July 4th date when there were formal flag-raising cermonies at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on the nights of July 3/4 1959 and July 3/4 1960.

    Most people assume that 47s were only made between the formal admissions of New Mexico on January 6, 1912, and Arizona on February 14, 1912. However both 47 star and 48 star flags were mass produced for months if not years prior to 1912. All of the 47 star flags I have seen are relatiavely large wool bunting flags, like yours or smaller. Printed 48-star flags with staggered rows of stars are actually quite common and are absolutely known to pre-date 1912. For example, the 1910 calendar/postcard below shows a little girl holding a pair of staggered-row 48-star flags. I also have this postcard posmarked 1910 - proof the flags were made well in advance of the "formal" admission of NM and AZ.

    So 47 star flags are not "rare" but they are relatively scarce and popular with some collectors.

    Can you post a pic of your flag?

    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
  13. alankay

    alankay New Member

    Yes I will. Thank you for your response, you gave me more information than I had.
  14. alankay

    alankay New Member

    I know its been awhile. I still have the47 star flag and will get a pic of it on here soon. I do apologize for disappearing but as a worker for uncle sam it happens sometimes.
  15. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    All 5 didn't come in on different days. The Dakotas territory came as 2 separate states on Nov. 2nd. And I am not sure that there was any intentional delay between New Mexico and Arizona.

    In any event, we used to think that there were hardly any 47 star flags. Now I would guess that I have seen perhaps 40 or more. I always own several at any given time, enough so that they don'e excite me like they used to.

    Jeff Bridgman

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